three way link

ANDREW SCHELLING / A BIOREGIONAL POETRY CLASS AT NAROPA
ecopoetics 1

In 1997 I received a Nathan Cummings Contemplative Fellowship … to design and teach at The Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) an undergraduate class that would explore a three way link between poetry, bioregional studies, and contemplative practice.

These are the most intriguing words in ecopoetics volume 1. It’s the first sentence in Andrew Schelling’s essay. Unfortunately the essay does not live up to the promise of this sentence. There is plenty of poetry and bioregional studies in the essay, but little about contemplative practice.

Unless you consider “study” and “students” contemplative by nature, and therefore a given, like the water fish swim in.

This sentence exemplifies the issue:

Since haiku accommodates itself to the seasons and works in collaboration with other arts (flower arrangement, calligraphy, music, painting, tea) the class made a formal visit to the Japanese tea ceremony house at Naropa.

Why state you are going to tea ceremony because it is collaborative with haiku? Why not state you are going to tea ceremony to experience a form of contemplative practice?

I can’t help thinking that there is an aversion to inward looking going on here. The fear of solipsism. The students undertake a bioregional poetics study of Rocky Flats, as “counterpoint to any tendency towards naïve or overly romanticized views of ecology.” But there is no attempt to grapple with the internal effects of such horrifying assaults on the environment.

More later, gotta go to the dentist.

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